Thursday, January 30, 2014

the Snowpocolypse in Alabama!

We often find ourselves in a "do/fix it myself" culture where we can often fix problems by ourselves or with very little contact with other people. This week has shown us how much better we can be when our community works together, when we allow ourselves to be the arms and legs of Christ to use our God-given talents, gifts and resources to help each other.

Growing up in the midwest and making the decision to move SOUTH for college, I never thought I'd find myself STUCK due to snow in Alabama!! Y'all, seriously! We've been joking about all the cold weather we've been having and calling it the "Snowpocolypse" but Tuesday really felt like it!

Tuesday (1/28/14) started much like any other day they've predicted flurries. I had a child sick at home and figured they would probably let school out early. The snow began to come down at our house around 10:30am. It was a beautiful snow but falling much quicker and sticking more than usual! Around 11:15, you could see it begin to stick to the roads as well, school was closing at 11:30. Great, I'll pull my car down to the bus stop to pick up Amiya. Next we heard they canceled bus service so off I go to pick her up at school. I slid into the curb at the first turn I had to make. At this point, I realized this wasn't an ordinary Alabama dusting, and was real glad I had a stick shift so I didn't always have to hit the breaks to slow down. The urge to hurry before the weather got worse set in; only I couldn't hurry, I was sliding everywhere! Oh have I mentioned Malakai and I haven't eaten lunch yet because I thought this would be a quick trip (mom of the year, right here)!? We live off of a windy, curvy back road and as I made my way about 3 miles from the house, I began to slide into a ditch around one of those curves. I backed up and tried again and slid again. There were already 2 cars in this same ditch so I knew where I was headed if I tried again. A kind man that was trying to assist those already in the ditch started bumping my car with his whole body to get me off the spot. Amazingly it worked & I didn't hit the cars on the other side of the road! I began shaking I was so nervous... HOW am I going to make it all the way to school! I got to a stop sign where I needed to turn left and it was a parking lot, cars had slid and were piled up facing all directions. Cell phones weren't working very well but I was able to text a friend who lives between our house and the school, very near where I was and asked if we could stop at her house. I thought it'd be for a short time while those cars got straightened up and cleared out a little. She let us raid her cabinets for some lunch while we watched and listened to news. It became very clear that it would not be safe for me to get out in this (my car slides in the rain...I'll be re-thinking all weather tires next time)! A few times I thought about trying to go back out in it but after talking to Wes about it, decided not to. He was out in it trying to help people and said not to go. I'm glad I listened and stayed put.

first slow down...those tire tracks are ICE!
We thought Amiya was going to have to stay the night at school. That was becoming reality for more and more parents. It feels miserable to think about the impossibilities to reach your child and that they might be sleeping at school, it doesn't help thinking about all those teachers who are already taking care of so many children throughout the day and now staying overnight but they were just as stuck as the parents were. Between moments of tears, I also had to remember that she was in a safe warm place that has food. This would be so much worse if we were stuck in a car somewhere without food or the proper clothing...many were stuck in that situation! Wes was finally able to reach Amiya around 8pm. A co-worker of Wes' who just moved here from Pennsylvania and had a 4 wheel drive vehicle and saved the day for us and a few others along the way. We all reached our house around 9:30pm. Both of our vehicles were in other locations but we were glad to be home.

Unfortunately that wasn't the case for everyone. Over 4,000 students and teachers in the area had to spend the night at their schools. Lots of people stayed at their businesses, fast food restaurants, hotel lobby's and in their cars overnight. It has not been pretty and it has not been fun but it has been encouraging to see how the community comes together to help complete strangers in a time like this.

A local Chick-fil-a used the resources they had on hand to feed drivers stuck on a major road turned parking lot. No strings attached, no money required (they could have held onto it, who knows how long they'd be stuck). I heard later that the Whole Foods just up the road from this Chick-fil-a was also allowing people to eat for free.

Icy roads this REALLY Alabama!?
A friend who works at the Embassy Suites wrote on Facebook that they opened up their ball rooms for stranded motorists, A Homewood Suites did the same (as I'm sure others did).

We heard news stories about people who were walking (in business attire) and people driving by giving them extra clothes they had in their cars to stay warm (that they may have needed later). People using their 4 wheelers to help people get home, strangers being welcomed into strangers homes etc.

A Doctor who walked 6 miles to perform emergency brain surgery and save a life. We even have friends who were flown home & to get their son via helicopter! Teachers, administration and cafeteria workers who spent the night with children/students, comforting, feeding them and trying to make it as fun as possible.

finally all home together & taking advantage of the snow!
Here's a roundup of what some of our roads look like in pictures. Meteorologists may have totally missed this storm but they did the best they could with the technology they have available which is usually pretty accurate. To blame them to the degree many of them are getting blamed I don't think is fair. We've all had technology fail us at some point and it's NEVER convenient! No one could have thought it would be as bad as it was but I believe so many went above and beyond and it was an opportunity for our community to remember the things that are most important and to come together to help each other out. We've still got a lot of clean up to do and still a lot of people still separated from family members. There's still abandoned cars and maybe you've seen the picture comparing some of our roads to scenes from the Walking Dead. Wow!

Taking advantage of the snow & ice on Wednesday 1/29/14

I do think it's a little interesting that the "snowpocolypse" hit shortly after we started seeing this report on the Most & Least Bible-Minded Cities in America!

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